I spoke at a public meeting on solidarity with Mexican workers and unions tonight as part of the global union week of action. The meeting was addressed in far more detail by Dr Francisco Dominguez and Prof Keith Ewing, and chaired by Diana Holland at Unite’s headquarters. Here is an edited version of what I said.
The battle for Mexico is between US-led capitalism and the working people of Mexico and the world. A former President of Mexico a hundred years ago said:
“poor Mexico: so far from God, so close to the United States.”
That defines Mexico’s sad history, developing out of corporatism into the neo-liberalism of the 1980s and 1990s. Mexico has become a test bed for global capitalism, with standards-free trade, rights-free export zones, demonisation and persecution of trade union leaders, non-union representation at work and basically the Beecroft Report’s proposals in all their glory.
The result is the poverty and insecurity in which social dislocation and drug cartels thrive. Although the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was supposed to be about trade in goods, they’re probably only a small part of what gets traded between Mexico and the USA. As people, drugs and exploitation floods north, guns and rights go south.
So there is a prime case for solidarity, not just in the interests of our brothers and sisters in Mexico, but because of the impact of what happens in Mexico on the US, Canada and Europe.
What can we do? We an raise awareness of what’s going on. We can work with Mexican unions – through our Global Union Federations and the ITUC – to build their capacity to resist. We should protest to the Mexican authorities as we did on Monday, and to the multinational enterprises operating in Mexico (eg Swiss BATA and Finnish PKC).
We should use the international institutions like the International Labour Organisation, the OECD including the multinational enterprise guidelines and the G20 where Mexico now has a seat at the global table. And, above all, we must learn the lessons for the UK and Europe.